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on October 19, 2002
I had heard about this book in a variety of places - a review here, a radio show there. Like the reader from Waltham, I was curious (and dubious). But I picked up the book the other day, and read. And read, and read. Like Glaser, smells have affected my life powerfully -- I recall an occasion at a friend's house where I caught of whiff of the soap my grandmother used. I became so overwhelmed with longing for her (she died years ago), that tears filled my eyes even before I knew what was happening. In "The Nose," Glaser describes precisely the power that odors have on our lives, but so very much more. As someone committed to alternative health, I, too, have often been puzzled by the abundance of drugs and surgery geared toward "curing" chronic sinus problems (which I have suffered in the past). Glaser's chapter on doctors at Mayo who have researched this poorly understood disease makes for riveting reading. So, frankly, does the entire book. (I was a bit puzzled by the inclusion of a chapter on snorted drugs, however. It was interesting, but felt a bit out of place.) At any rate, this is a deeply intelligent, beautifully written book on a fascinating subject. Glaser mined history, pop culture, medicine and science for a wondrous narrative. This is an impressive and important book.
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on October 19, 2002
I had heard about this book in a variety of places - a review here, a radio show there. Like the reader from Waltham, I was curious (and dubious). But I picked up the book the other day, and read. And read, and read. Like Glaser, smells have affected my life powerfully -- I recall an occasion at a friend's house where I caught of whiff of the soap my grandmother used. I became so overwhelmed with longing for her (she died years ago), that tears filled my eyes even before I knew what was happening. In "The Nose," Glaser describes precisely the power that odors have on our lives, but so very much more. As someone committed to alternative health, I, too, have often been puzzled by the abundance of drugs and surgery geared toward "curing" chronic sinus problems (which I have suffered in the past). Glaser's chapter on doctors at Mayo who have researched this poorly understood disease makes for riveting reading. So, frankly, does the entire book. (I was a bit puzzled by the inclusion of a chapter on snorted drugs, however. It was interesting, but felt a bit out of place.) At any rate, this is a deeply intelligent, beautifully written book on a fascinating subject. Glaser mined history, pop culture, medicine and science for a wondrous narrative. This is an impressive and important book.
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on August 19, 2002
When I heard the teaser about "The Nose" on a talk radio show the other day, I couldn't believe my ears. Finally, someone has defined the meaning of the nose in all aspects of our lives - in sex, how we look, how we feel about the things we smell. I am a therapist who deals primarily with women, and at least a dozen times a week, my clients discuss how scents affect their psyche, their work, even their marriages. Glaser's book explores all this and more, in an entertaining and fascinating format. She takes us from ancient Egyptian deodorants to the world of celebrity nose jobs, and she describes (in lay terms!) how scientists are unlocking the mysteries behind smell and the brain. A terrific book for anyone who smells!
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on September 5, 2002
When I heard Glaser on a talk show, I was blown away. I have been obsessed with noses and smells my whole life, and I ordered the book right away. This explains so much to me -- things that have only been in silly women's magazines before. For example, why is it that I can be attracted to a man and then not like him just because of how he smells? ("The Nose" will tell you why - biological destiny) And why is it that I can "sense" when others are happy or angry or when someone has been someplace, even when I can't smell it? I am a history buff (I teach high school social studies) and in particular I found the history unbelievably engaging. I couldn't put this book down! I look forward to hearing and reading more from Glaser. She writes like a dream. My only critique: sometimes information gets repeated, but I didn't mind.
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on October 16, 2002
As a literary academic, I was reluctant to buy this book. We've had a good many books on body parts and "objects," and frankly many of them have been poorly reserached, pretentious, and badly written. Still, the cover drew me and the author's name sang. I browsed. When I turned to Part I and read the first sentence--"In the beginning, the world stank," I was hooked. As it turned out I made no mistake. "The Nose" is an intelligent piece of serious reserach; it never pretends; and it is exceptionally well written. The tidbits Glaser uncovers are often wonderful. Did you know that the inspiration of the first stick-on deoderant was the invention of the first ballpoint pen? But there are major facts here about the nose in all its profiles, and the overarching discussion of "smell" holds the book together, cover to cover. Still, if this book had been only "clinical," the it would be have been less entertaining. What Glaser achieves in giving us, gracefully and with ease, is the almost seamless tale of the nose paralleled by her own personal memoir--of her nose, her chronic battle with her sinuses, her own life of smell, both her temporary loss of it and how she suddenly regained it. So the book is both factual and instructive and detailed (the descriptions of the surgeries she observed and experienced are not for the faint of heart) blended with her life-long relationship to her own nose and its special sensitivities. Glaser is deeply read in the history of her subject, medical and literary, and she has full command of her "object." This book is both instructive and pleasurable.
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VINE VOICEon October 8, 2003
As many reviewers mentioned, I heard the author or book discussed on multiple NPR programs. It seemed fairly fascinating. ...and it's ok, but the radio discussions were better.
The book is part history text (including biblical), medical text, marketing text, etc. G-d has a favorite smell; odors through history, reactions we have to aromas, nasal surgery and treatments. Overall, it's not difficult to imagine this being compiled from a newspaper article series.
It is interesting information and things we never think about (i.e. how can someone w/no sense of smell know when something spoils). Some of the descriptions of what the period during the bubonic plague was told very effectively. It's the details Glaser puts in here that are so interesting (yet disturbing). The descriptions of some of the surgeries are vague - and had they been as graphic as the plague years, most would suffer w/out surgery (as I have).
Slightly over 200 pages - and fairly big print. It's probably worth the softbound price, but $25 for the hardcover isn't necessary.
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on September 14, 2002
Wow! When I heard this on All Things Considered, I ordered it immediately. It's fascinating! I am a Robert Siegal junkie, so when he uses words like "astonishing" and "fascinating," I take it seriously. I always thought I was alone in my nasal obsessions. Glaser points out that throughout history, the nose has mattered immensely. I loved the first chapter, on the history of smells, as well as her introduction. The science chapters are riveting, and she makes an interesting point. If medicine is so good for us, why is my local CVS so full of nasal meds? This is a really cool book. The illustrations are amazing, too. What a great idea - and a great gift idea!
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on April 23, 2003
If you have chronic sinusitis like I do, you might want to try a technique from India called Saline Nasal Irrigation (or Jala Neti). It is the only thing that helped me.
The book talks a lot about sinusitus, but I don't think it mentions Jala Neti. I heard the author interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross. She was explaining how irritants get into the nose, and the nose tries to flush them out with extra mucus, then went on to say that you then take antihistamines to dry up the mucus. This seems illogical, rather, go the other direction by flushing the nose deliberately by pouring salt water through it. Search Google for the phrase "jala neti" if you want to try it. If you are really ambitious, look up "sutra neti".
I hope we can learn something from the people in India. Perhaps we could have learned someting from the people of Afghanistan or Iraq or Palestine but instead we bombed them and then whitewashed the media.
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